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Playfest presents ‘Daughters These Days’ and ‘Riding Lessons’

From left: Kim King and Joanna Murdock portray sisters Sally and Maryhill in “Daughters These Days.” Photo courtesy of Eric Fritzius

“Daughters These Days” by T.K. Lee is a short drama about a pair of sisters who must make hard decisions regarding the sale of the property of their childhood home following the tragic death of their abusive mother when that home burned. There are secrets and implications to be found.

“This play most solidly falls into the category of drama of all the plays featured in the PlayFest this year,” director Eric Fritzius said. “Most of the plays have heavier issues at their heart, but ‘Daughters These Days’ shows those without as much room for laughs.  It can be a tense and sometimes uncomfortable ride, but is all the better for it.”

Playwright Lee revealed his inspiration for the play.  

“It’s very loosely based on something that happened in my hometown, many years ago, where suspicions arose about adult children and an aging parent in a fatal fire. Implications of abuse were rampant, but no foul play was ever officially charged. But those secrets are staying just that – secrets.”

Lee is an award-winning member of the Dramatists Guild, Southeastern Theatre Conference and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, among others. In addition to plays, he has published award-winning poetry and is a Pushcart-nominated writer of short fiction. He currently is Visiting Faculty in the MFA Program at the Mississippi University for Women.

Kim King plays Sally, the sentimental younger sister.  King had her stage debut in 2015 when she was a part of the New Voices Play Festival at Greenbrier Valley Theatre in Lewisburg. She went on to perform in a short Shadow Art piece for Trillium Performing Arts in 2015 and has appeared in the New Voices festivals of 2017 and 2018. She was an ensemble cast member in GVT’s 2017 production of Babe’s in Toyland. She was born and raised in Greenbrier County, and is a resident of Lewisburg.

Maryhill, the pragmatic older sister, is portrayed by Joanna Murdock. Murdock has a degree in theatre from the University of Kentucky and has performed on many stages. For the five years before moving to Lewisburg she was a company member with a theatre in Huntington called ARTS, appearing in five different productions in 2016 and as Annelle in Steel Magnolias in 2017. She performed multiple roles in the Greenbrier Valley Theatre’s productions of Babes in Toyland in 2017 and New Voices play festival earlier this year where she appeared alongside her husband, Mike, in a piece called The Night Sky that was directed by Play-Fest’s director Eric Fritzius.

The short play Riding Lessons was written by playwright Brett Hursey, a Professor of English at Longwood University, in Farmville, Virginia. Hursey’s comedies have appeared in more than 200 theaters across the country including venues in Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hollywood, as well as internationally in England, Belgium, Luxembourg, Romania, Australia and Canada. He’s also had more than 50 off-off-off Broadway productions in Manhattan.

From left: Eric Fritzius, Chris Curry and Shenda Smith in “Riding Lessons.” Photo courtesy of Eric Fritzius

Of Riding Lessons, Hursey comments,  “I wish we all had an “inner-clown” watching over us.”

The part of Clown will be performed by Chris Curry.  Curry had his Drama Workshop debut as the villain James Larrabee in the 2015 production of Sherlock Holmes.  He continued with the Drama Workshop in the 2016 Opera House PlayFest, appearing as Reggie in About the Baby, by T.K. Lee; and Dave in Pumps, by Brett Hursey. In 2017 he played the role of Nick in the full length play The People at the Edge of Town. He also will appear as Dale in Petting Zoo, another 2018 Playfest short play.

Playwright and Drama Workshop Director Eric Fritzius will portray Clark, the long-suffering recipient of Clown’s attention.  Fritzius lives in Lewisburg, where he is a frequent performer with Greenbrier Valley Theatre (GVT). His short plays have been performed across northern Appalachia as well as north of the Mason-Dixon at the recent 10 x 10 Play Festival for Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Massachuetts.  For the past three years, Eric has directed the annual production by the Pocahontas Drama Workshop, including the 2016 Pocahontas Drama Workshop, including the 2016 Opera House PlayFest and last year’s The People at the Edge of Town, by A.J. DeLauder. His short, modern fantasy collection, A Consternation of Monsters, is available in print, ebook and audiobook.  He works as an audiobook narrator.

Shenda Smith will join the cast of Riding Lessons as Edie, a bibliophile who also has a secret. Smith returns to the Opera House stage after her fall 2017 performance as the ill-fated operetta songbird, Lilly Lacey, in Arla Ralston’s original work The Ghost of the Opera House. From youth drama workshops to productions of Picnic and All This and Moonlight, Smith enjoyed the experiences entertaining Pocahontas County audiences growing up in the area. She currently is the Vice President of the Opera House Foundation Board and is coordinator of Pocahontas County Water Resources Task Force.

The Opera House PlayFest 2018 will include four other short plays, including comedy, drama and a mixture of both. The festival will be performed Friday, May 18, and Saturday, May 19, beginning at 8 p.m. each evening at the Pocahontas County Opera House in Marlinton. 

There will be a free preview performance on May 17 at 7 p.m.

Parents should be aware that some of the plays contain adult themes that may not be suitable for young children.

The Pocahontas County Drama Workshop is community theater supported by Dramas Fairs and Festivals, Parks and Recreation and the Board of Education. Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door.  
This is the last of a five-part series about Opera House PlayFest 2018, this year’s production by the Pocahontas County Drama Workshop.

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